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The Stephenson Memorial Miniature Locomotive Association




CHAIRMAN                                                                                                                                                                  HONORARY SECRETARY /TREASURER

                      T.H.JONES                                                                                                                                                                                 E.GIBBONS                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Report on 2016 Trials held at Hurworth Grange, nr Darlington, 11th September


The South Durham Society of Model Engineers were our hosts for these our 61st trials. We were last here in October 2013 and the track and excellent facillities have changed little in the intervening period. The railway at Hurworth is a slightly irregular oval  718 feet long with a steep down gradient at one side and a steady climb through the end curves and up the station straight. The steepest gradient appears to be a short length just before entering the station and it is here that locomotives short of steam come to a stand as often as not. The down grade is quite scary if the locomotive is not kept in check, but a good run down the hill certainly gives enough impetus to help with the climb up to the station, if the regulator is opened wide at the right spot.The Stephenson Memorial Miniature Locomotive Association

Dr. Robert Ruckley of the home club started the proceedings more or less on time with his newly built and not quite complete (unpainted) 3 1/2" GWR Hawksworth County. His load was made up to 402lbs and the start was reasonable easy. This loco is I believe Robert's first attempt and is a credit to him. He is also not that experienced in operating the engine and  he soon came to a stand. Recovery took several minutes and was followed by further stops such that at the end of the twenty minutes allowed the locomotive had not quite done two laps of the track. Given the light load and short distance Robert's score was only good enough to give him tenth place despite the low fuel consumption of 8 ounces. A brave effort all considered. Let's hope we see this competitor again next year with a little more experience under his belt.

Run 1 - Robert Ruckley with his GWR County passes through the station

Joe Gibbons has now been competing for thirteen years (how time flies) usually with the 3 1/2" GNR atlantic he had today. Joe likes to get a move on and is really only interested in having a good fast continuous run with a challenging load. With a pound short of 600 behind the loco Joe made a good start and soon had the speed up to his usual pace. Unfortunately the the leading bogie axle derailed on his second lap and forced a stop. Off again the run continued in fits and starts with the bogie derailing almost every lap, even after the speed was reduced. At one point the loco was off all wheels and some damage to guard irons resulted. At the end of the run a disappointed Joe had covered over 11 laps with a coal consumption of just 15 ounces. Joe immediately appealed for an examination of the track at the section where  the railway opens for access to the centre area, which he had determined was the cause of his derailments.  It was discovered there was some mis-alignment of the rails at the joints, the result of some recent relaying of the track. Some quick work by the track marshals soon had the issue resolved and it was agreed that in accordance with the rules Joe could make his run again.

Run 2 Joe Gibbons and the GNR Atlantic on the road again

Next up was yours truly with the 3 1/2" gauge A4, hoping for a better effort than last years disaster. With 849lbs behind the engine and sand on the first 15 yards of the railway, the loco made a relatively easy start and began to get into it's stride. After a couple of laps things weren't quite as good as I'd hoped and I took the opportunity to stop at the top of the climb to build fire and water levels. After that the run went quite well although the bright sunlight made it difficult in places to see the water gauges, so I was feeding water in the wrong places for safety's sake and couldn't get the boiler pressure up to the mark. Despite that, the run covered a little over 10 laps for a coal comsuption of 18.5 ounces which ultimately gave  6th place.


Run 3 Eddie Gibbons and Sir Nigel full throttle

Wilf McHugh of the host club has been a regular competitor for many years now, usually with the engine he had entered today, a narrow guage Hunslet saddle tank on 5" gauge. Originally an 0-4-0, Wilf had added leading and trailing pony trucks to improve the locomotive's ride, making it a 2-4-2. This time his load was 1006lbs and after a good start, began lapping at a steady rate. Sadly it wasn't to last and Wilf had to make a stop in the usual place on the steepest part of the climb into the station. Once pressure had recovered the train got underway again and completed just short of 13 laps in the time allowed. Coal consuption was a fairly hefty 26 ounces putting Wilf into 8th place.

Run 4 Wilf Mc Hugh and his Hunslet steady away

Run No 5 saw Dave Henderson of Tyneside bring his Polly VI to the start line. Dave's first trial was last year at Sunderland and like then he had come to enjoy the experience and improve on his performance. Taking a lesser load by 100lbs than last year at 807 Dave made a steady run, although like almost everyone else this year he had to stop for shortage of steam. Completing just over 13 laps with a fuel usage of 19 ounces, Dave finshed in 7th place, very close behind my A4.

Run 5 Look no hands! Dave Henderson and his Polly VI going well

Our Chairman Tom Jones, representing West Cumbria GME, came to defend his 5" gauge trophy from last year with his BR Class 2 2-6-0. After some time standing at the start whilst Tom's driving car was adjusted for clearance, Tom set off in good style. Tom found he had a problem with reaching some of the controls, particularly the by-pass and found it necessary to stop to make adjustments as needed. Whilst this rather marred his run, Tom still managed to do more than 14 laps before the end of run klaxon was sounded, and having burnt just 22 ounces of coal for the load of 1012 lbs, managed to secure the Rocket Trophy and fourth place overall.

Run 6 Chairman Tom Jones with his Class 2 everything under control


This year we had more 7 1/4 " gauge entries than we have ever had, and the first of these was Stuart Oliver from West Cumbria, who won the trials last year, and yet another locomotive. This was a GWR Saddle tank No 1366 and Stuart elected to haul 1298 lbs. In the twenty minute running period Stuart completed almost 15 laps, although he needed to stop for recovery of pressure.  Coal consuption was, however very low at 16.5 ounces which put Stuart and 1366 into second place overall giving them the TSMEE trophy for the runner up.

Run 7 Stuart Oliver and GWR 1366 deep in concentration


Andy Lowes, a regular competitor from the host club, had brought his recently completed Holmside, "Hall Garth", for it's first trials. Andy took a moderate load of 2006lbs and ran at a steady pace, interupted by a stop to recover steam and water, covering a total of 2690 yards, a little over 11 laps of the railway.  Coal burnt was 30 ounces which was frugal enough to return 3rd place overall, an excellent result for a new locomotive. 

Run 8 Andy Lowes and Hall Garth showing potential

Alan Bowren of Carlisle has competed in the trials for many years and this time he had entered his Holmside, "Solway", several times a winner.  Alan had loaded 2456lbs and after starting ran just a few yards before stopping for lack of steam, which came as a great surprise for those of us who have seen this locomotive perform. The train stood for several minutes without a sign of increasing steam pressure and Alan decided to retire. An unfortunate event for such an experienced competitor.
Run 9 Alan Bowron and Solway - uncharacteristic failure


Our next runner was President Allan Bones' Holmeside, "Belmont" once again a regular trials entry and winner. Allan had felt that he couldn't drive this time due to the effects of medication, so his son Andrew had joined us to take the regulator. Andrew has plenty of driving experience with Belmont although he had never handled the loco in a trials situation. Taking almost the same load as Alan Bowron ay 2489lbs Andrew started well but soon lost steam and had to stop to recover. Although this did not take long, progress was soon curtailed when the train reached the steepest incline on the station approach. Once steam was raised again the loco failed to start the train and Andrew had to set back to try again. Again the incline caused the loco to stall and Andrew set back much farther this time and successfully restarted. This took a toll on the running time and the final distance was just over 11 laps, and with the largest caol consumption of the day at 52 ounces Andrew ended in 9th place. 

Run 10 Andrew Bones with Belmont enjoying the sun

Our penultimate runner was Paul Henderson, another first timer, in charge of his dad's Romulus named "Angkor Thom". Don't know why, I should ask, but it's the name of a city in Cambodia and I feel sure there's a deal of history involved. Romulus is a narrow gauge locomotive and comes out quite large on 7 1/4" gauge. I have to say I was a little apprehensive about it running on a raised track, but our host offered no objections and it actually ran very well. Paul wanted a load of over 3000lbs which meant adding three passengers to the deadweight making 3085lbs total. Once underway, Paul kept up a very steady pace which he maintaned throughout the run, safety valves just feathering and averaging 6.82 miles per hour.  With the highest distance in the competition so far of 4001 yards and a fuel consumption od 40 ounces Paul was placed first overall, took the 7 1/4" trophy, and the President's Shield for the best placed first attempt. Well done!

Run 11 Paul Henderson with Angkor Thom first time for both and 3 trophys

Last but not least came the second run of Joe Gibbons with No 1418 the 3 1/2" gauge atlantic. For some reason Joe's load was increased to 609lbs from the 599 he took originally, and on two cars rather than one. Often re-runs turn out to be a disappointment after the bigger engines have performed, but this time Joe really put on a spirited show, with the loco being driven all out. There were people saying the the sub minute laps meant he was running at close to 12 mph, but a swift calculation showed a minute a lap was actually 8.16 mph and joe averaged 8.88mph. There was virtually no variation in speed, the loco performing magnificently and covering 5208 yards in the twenty minute run, blasting away just like it's big brothers did on the East Coast Main Line. Understandably the coal consumption suffered at 21.5 ounces, but that was enough to give Joe a final 5th place, just behind Tom Jones and just ahead (Grrrr) of me. He deservedly received the 3 1/2" gauge shield for his efforts. 

 Run 12 Joe Gibbons on his re-run - so easy he can do it with his eyes closed!

Once we had gathered competitors. stewards and spectators around the station, Malcolm Proud  gave a short address on behalf or our hosts, thanking all involved followed by presentation of trophys by Jane Lowes.

The final placings are attached at the end of this report together with an analysis of the figures for those who are interested.

Trophys were awarded as follows:

The Stephenson Cup for the overall winner, the 7 1/4" gauge trophy for the best placed 7 1/4" locomotive and the President's Shield for the highest placed first time competitor to Paul Henderson of Tyneside SMEE.

Jane Lowes presents Paul Henderson with his Trophys

The TSMEE trophy for the runner up to Stuart Oliver of West Cumbria GME.

Stuart Oliver and the TSMEE Trophy

The Rocket Trophy for the best placed 5" gauge locomotive to Tom Jones of West Cumbria GME,

Jane congratulates Tom Jones

The 3 1/2" Gauge Shield to Joe Gibbons of Tyneside SMEE.

My thanks to all those who turned up on the day to compete, steward or spectate. I hope that you all enjoyed the event, and hope you will come to join us next year.

My particular thanks to the time keeper and the load and coal stewards whose contribution to the event is supremely important, and without whom the trials just wouldn't happen.

And just as important thanks to the ladies and gentlemen who provided the catering for the day. As ever there were ample supplies of quality food and I hope everyone enjoyed and appreciated their efforts.

Next year the trials will be held on the 10th September all being well. Please make a note in your diaries and in particular, add it to your club events diary to avoid clashes.

Currently I have two offers to host the event. If any other club wishes to be considered please let me know by the end of the year when I will ballot the members for their choice of venue.

And now for the photographs. Thanks to Dondra Newland,  Andrew Bones, Mick Stirman , Eddie and Joe Gibbons for their contributions.

                Wilf returns his coal for weighing                                                                Malcolm Proud keeping track of proceedings


                                           Joe ready to rock again                                                                             Our man with the stopwatch in control


                   The excitement was just too much for some.......                                                        ................... but not for others!


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